Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekend Fun

This weekend was almost totally fun-filled and happy...I'll save the not so good for another day... for now I'm focusing on the happy. We kicked things off by taking Garrison to our high school's Homecoming Game. He had soo much fun and loved every second. He was a huge fan of watching our Trojans, was very impressed with seeing the Queen crowned, and he even went and played with some of his friends for a while during the game... where we could see him of course. (Terrell and I both took note of the fact that he left us for his friends and he's in KINDERGARTEN. Gracious.)

My mom came over and hung out at our house for the night and put Austin and Layton to bed for us... thankfully Austin was spared the disturbing experience this time. Bless his heart. He does NOT like loud football games. Maybe he'll be ready to try it out again next year. We feel like Friday night's game may be our last of the season just because of it getting colder and because the whole family can't go and due to the fact that it makes for a very late night for our biggest. I have to say though that the 2 games we went to we really enjoyed! (And how cool is it to KNOW the Homecoming Queen?! We were thrilled for her and her family!)

Saturday morning was full of soccer. Both boys had games bright and early and this time I focused on trying to get some pictures of Austin in action. He has really taken well to soccer and is definitely in the zone come game time. =) The pictures I got aren't the best, but I'm still thankful I captured a few shots of his first year.

He's really good at dribbling down field and scoring goals. I think practicing at home with his big brother and daddy gives him an advantage. =)
About to score! And ready to give high fives to his fan club afterwards. My boys have quite the showing of support for their games.
Leading the herd! We sure are proud of our #9. =)
My favorite soccer players!
And here's what Layton thought about soccer on Saturday morning. Bor-ing! Haha.
Saturday afternoon Garrison and I went to his first "friend" birthday party in B'ville! He was pretty nervous and apprehensive about going but had a ball once we got there and loved playing and celebrating with friends. And I loved being a part of the celebration too! With friends I've known for years. Living here is just the best. =)

The rest of Saturday was sort of a whirlwind. Feeding Layton, grocery shopping, getting all the boys out of the house as fast I could so Terrell could watch the Georgia game in peace, playing on the neighborhood playground at my parents' subdivision, visiting with Granna and Papa a little, feeding Layton again, and then late night pizza for supper. It was crazy but turned out to be a pretty fun night.

Sunday was filled with church for the whole fam, a fun shopping date for Terrell, Layton, and I in which I got to spend some bday money (yay!), and a fun afternoon for my big boys with Granna and Papa. Then we grilled out with my parents and AnAn and Frankie for supper. On a Sunday night! And last Sunday night we spent with Terrell's family! It's amazing how much we can do and be a part of living here. While I could definitely do without the meltdowns leaving the grandparents' houses, I just love, love, LOVE being here.

That was the biggest blessing I was reminded of this weekend. Despite discouragement, disappointment, hiccups to our plans, and Sunday night meltdowns, experiencing life here is just a big, huge blessing. There's no where else I'd rather do life. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Favorites: Homecoming Week

This week has been Homecoming Week for us (since we live in a 1 high school town, all the schools get to enjoy Homecoming festivities together) and it's made the return to school after a week off a lot more bearable. My biggest was dreading going back something serious so I'm thankful this week turned out to be pretty fun for him.

Going all the way back to last Friday night, here are my faves from the week...

*Terrell got home from his trip away last Friday afternoon so we loaded up the kiddos for the fair as a fun surprise and treat. Garrison LOVED it and Austin loved the idea of it. Poor Austin wasn't tall enough to ride anything on his own, so whatever he rode had to be something that he was tall enough to ride with an adult. And after riding on the fastest carousel in the world, those rides just weren't that appealing to my middle.

He actually made up his mind to ride the helicopters with me but after having to sit there and wait for everyone else to load up and get strapped in, he changed his mind and started to panic... so we ended up getting off. Poor baby. Better luck next year hopefully.

*This sweet boy makes me smile every time I feed him. He loves to eat. =)

*Last Saturday afternoon Terrell surprised me and asked me out on a last-minute date! Terrell's parents were able to keep the boys for us for a couple of hours and we ended up buying groceries together and then enjoyed a quiet, uninterrrupted, conversation-filled meal together. So fun!

*Garrison's giraffe, Tall Legs, busted his head open over the weekend. I was never totally clear on the details of how this happened. If you look closely you can see his bandaid. I'm happy to report that Garrison took great care of him and and he has now made a full recovery. =)

*Austin did some "reading" this week during school. I have some small little books I put together of very simple "emergent reader" text so he was able to read sentences like "A zebra. A tiger. A giraffe.", with picture clues to help. He was soo proud of himself! I was pretty proud too. =)

*Terrell found the boys their first ever pair of boots this week for Boots Day at school. They've never been interested in boots before so we've never purchased any until now. Fireman rain boots are a pretty big hit!

*My baby learned a new trick this week... He can now roll all the way over in his swing. And then he just looks around like it's completely normal and he's just hanging out. He now has to be strapped in every single time... and I'm thinking an upgrade to something more age appropriate may be in our future.
*Outside time this week has been fun!

*Yesterday we enjoyed our very first Homecoming Parade since over 10 years ago. The boys had a ball! And thank goodness AnAn and Frankie were there as my back-up because keeping an eye on 2 busy big boys plus a baby was a little challenging.

*I just love this picture. It gives me a glimpse at the future. So thankful for my boys' sweet friends.

*Even Elmo made an appearance! Garrison got a hug and Austin got out of there! Ha! (Austin doesn't do live characters. He is clearly my saftey first, extra cautious child. =))

We've had a pretty great week (other than my survival mode episode on Wednesday night when Terrell was out of town... eesh) and now we're looking forward to a pretty fun Fall weekend. Soccer, a birthday party, shopping, and a little down time are all on the agenda. Yay. Happy Friday!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goodbye Survival Mode

Survival Mode: The point at which you do whatever possible or absolutely necessary to survive. To make it through. To keep everyone alive and mostly well. To keep your sanity somewhat intact. To just survive.

At our house it looks a lot like fast food, skipping baths, lots of TV time, a stressed-out mama, off the chain boys, a hungry dog who is not only waiting on supper but also on the opportunity to go out and do her business, a messy house, 1 or more boys being slightly neglected while I take care of 1 or more other boys, etc, etc, etc. I'm sure I could think of more survival mode examples but I think I'll stop there and just let you use your imagination. To sum it up, it's desparate. It's out of energy and ideas and good parenting skills. It's just surviving and getting by and not much else.

(I know I sound dramatic and extreme, but given I just experienced full-blown survival mode last night, I think I'm coming from a sincere and pretty accurate place.)

For our family survival mode typcially occurs when Terrell or I (or both) are sick, OR, when Terrell has to work really late. That's when things get crazy and we just do what we have to do to make it to bedtime because sometimes that's all you can do. Sometimes you have to feed the kids McDonald's while the house remains a disaster zone and the dog barks and begs for supper and a potty break and the kids either skip a bath or give themselves a bath (hahaha) and bedtime is a 3 ring circus act (literallly, one act for each boy), before they're finally asleep and you think you've made it... only to realize the dog still hasn't been tended to and neither has the McDonald's trash. Ahhhhhh. The craziness of it all is overwhelming. 

However, thankfully for us, survival mode has always been a sort of rare occurrence. We aren't sick that often, Terrell's back doesn't go out too regularly, and Terrell typically doesn't have after hours meetings/obligations with work or much travel.

Until now.

I may have mentioned my husband's going to be working and/or traveling quite a bit this Fall. He's basically going to be away traveling or working late at least once a week and up to a whole week every week until the week of Thanksgiving. (And then again in January, I just can't think about that right now) And up until last night I've tried my best not to be dramatic about it. I've remained supportive and confident in my abilities to hold down the fort and very go with the flow about it all. We even made it through his first traveling dates last week with no issues. Praise the Lord!

Unfortunately last night just wasn't so good. My survival mode tendancies came out and I barely made it to bedtime. The boys were fine (at least I hope they aren't scarred), me not so much. There was drama and yelling and exhaustion and craziness. Ughhh. By the time I made it to bedtime I was worn out and defeated and determined to find a better way. Because survival mode is okay every once in a while. It's fine and necessary for those rare occasions when you just have to do what you have to do. But every single time daddy is away this Fall? That's not okay. Last night is not how I want the boys to experience half of our Fall season.

So I'm going to be changing my approach. I'm going to prepare and plan for and do my best to implement some normalcy while I'm on my own in the coming weeks. I know I will have some nights like last night. It's probably inevitable. Survival mode isn't always a bad thing, it's just a bad thing for me to resort to over and over and over again during the next month and a half.

It's so funny to me how during the day I'm totally fine going at it solo and being way out-numbered. It's just my thing. I still have moments when I lose my cool and yell and make mistakes, but I never panic and I never go into survival mode (unless I'm sick I guess). But in the evenings when it comes to feeding everybody, bathing everybody, taking care of everybody, and getting everybody to bed all on my own, things get crazy (and ugly) and tend to fall apart. And that's what I really want to change. That, and the fast food, too much TV, lack of good hygiene, and drama-filled wildness that usually occurs.

I want to be able to cook for my boys, let them play, manage to have a somewhat normal bathtime, and keep our usual bedtime routine intact. I want things to feel relaxed and predictable for them. I don't want to be on such a short fuse just because I'm by myself that they get in trouble for every little thing and then finally just start acting out like crazy little people because they're feeding off of my flustered, panic-mode lack of confidence and consistency. I want a realistic game plan that works for everybody and I want to enjoy my time with them. I don't want to just wish away all this time I'll be on my own with Terrell out of town or working late. I know I'll have help from the grandparents some days and I'm so grateful to be here in the hometown where I can call back-up anytime, I just want to be prepared for the days and nights when I'll have to be on my own or when it's best for me to be on my own.

The biggest thing I'm going to focus on is getting out of the house in the afternoon after homework is done. If the weather is nice I want to take advantage and just get them outdoors to move and run and play hard. I also want to plan some simple meals. And I think I'm going to start focusing totally on Layton first at bathtime/bedtime, and then once he's in bed take care of the big boys. Who knows if any of this will work or how it will go, but I have to start somewhere. I'm sure it's going to be trial and error for a while, but I'm determined to find a better way. Survival mode is supposed to be a last resort, rare thing so I'm making it my goal to keep it that way.

Like the Casting Crowns song says It's time for us to more than just survive, we were made to thrive.

And that's exactly what I intend to do. Gulp. It's a tall order and lofty goal but I have to try my best for my boys. Time to start praying and seeking wisdom and patience and strength and energy. Goodbye survival mode!

(Until I'm really desparate.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

8 Months Old

Layton turned 8 months old on Sunday and I find myself feeling torn between sadness over my baby being 8 months old ALREADY and gratefulness that he's still VERY much my baby. He's still a baby-baby, still itty bitty, still our littlest little man. And then it hit me that I'll always view him as my baby. (Garrison and Austin too, but even more so with Layton.) He'll always be young in my eyes. I know a few moms who still view their last baby as "the baby" even though they're full-blown big boys and just as old or older than my biggest boy. There's just something about the last baby that makes you always see them as a little smaller, a little younger, a little more baby than they really are. And I think I'm finally starting to get that now. While I don't plan on spoiling Layton more than his big brothers or letting him get away with whatever he wants or "baby-ing" him forever, I do see the temptation and challenge that last bundle of joy presents. But oh how I'm loving experiencing all things baby again. The blessing of this baby is priceless and I'm going to soak up his babyhood and savor it for as long as I can. =)

Monkey pics!
Layton is the first Selph boy who has really paid a lot of attention to his animal...

Garrison at 8 months...
Austin at 8 months...
8 Months Stats & Happenings...
*You weigh 15 pounds 10 ounces (we just went to the doctor today so this should be accurate) and are somewhere over 26 inches long. I think. We probably won't figure out your correct length until we go back for your 9 month appointment. This month we decided to add a bottle of formula to your feedings in addition to me nursing you 4 times a day. So far, so good! Yay!!
*You are still wearing a size 3 in diapers and 6-9 or 6-12 months clothes... so no changes there but we are so thankful you've gained weight and keep right on growing!
*You still have a huge appetite and are doing great with solids! As soon as you get some teeth I'm thinking you'll be ready to try some finger foods. You never turn down food!
*Speaking of teeth, you have 2 on the bottom that are almost ready to break through! Yaaay! Hopefully once that happens (and you finish your antibiotic for another little ear infection) we can get rid of this never-ending cold and congestion and crud you've had.
*You still aren't super impressed with the sippy cup but I think you'll get better and better about taking it and be ready to give up the bottle by your 1st birthday.
*You still go to bed around 7:30 every night and are still waking up about once a night almost every night. Once every week or so you'll decide to sleep throught the night but still nothing consistent like you used to. I know all your congestion isn't making it easy on you though! Thankfully you usually just need your paci and you go right back to sleep on your own. You're still a bit of an early bird but most mornings we can get you to go back to sleep for a little while before you're up for the day around 7:00.
*Your naps have suffered a little this month too... mainly because of being sick. However, you are easy to put down for naps so I'm thankful for that and that we've managed to hold onto our routine despite our busy household and big school schedule.
*You are starting to sit up just a little more! You still aren't a huge fan of it, but you will sit by yourself without help for a few seconds at a time now. Your big brothers are super impressed. =)
*You are slowly but surely becoming more mobile. You haven't mastered a scoot or anything yet, but you spin around and roll around and reach, grab, and stretch all the time...indicating a scoot is possibly coming soon. It's becoming very rare for you to stay in one spot. You are reminding me a lot of Garrison when he was baby... content and laid back and in no real hurry. =) Austin had already pulled up for the first time by 8 months. Ha.
*You LOVE watching your big brothers and are pretty curious about what they're up to. And you are always happy to see them first thing in the morning and right after you wake up from your naps. You love giving them a big ole smile that they just can't get enough of.
*You don't love... waiting to be fed, getting cleaned up after eating, Austin pulling on you or being a little too hands on with you, and your big brothers being in your face, space, or area for too long.
*We are loving watching you grow and celebrating all the new things you're learning and doing. We love you LOTS! Happy Birthday to our sweet littlest man!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

We made our annual visit to the pumpkin patch this weekend and had a great time! We opted to go somewhere close by and local that had the perfect mix of things to do for our kiddos and their ages and I think the whole fam is excited to go back! Yay for family traditions. =)

They had tons of places for cute pictures so that was another huge bonus for us. I love this picture of my big boys! Layton is in such a daze he could pass for a baby doll. Ha!

The big boys loved the massive playground they had. It's the biggest one we'd ever seen and it was all connected. Talk about crazy huge. They were actually playing somewhere on this playground when I took this picture. 

We all enjoyed the hayride (minus the hay) too. The farm owner/hayride driver said this year they decided against the hay... and our family in particular really appreciated this decision. We couldn't get a family pic during our ride because we were squeezed in pretty tight but we did get one of our view. =)

The big boys also loved the life-size sensory tub (that's what I called it) full of deer corn. They thought it was the best thing ever and probably would've stayed in there playing for like an hour if we weren't encouraging them to do other things so we could fit everything in before having to think about lunch and naps...and the Georgia game. Ahem. (Although I am super thankful my hubby agreed to miss the start of the game. I appreciate him so much. =))

Garrison loved feeding the animals right out of his hand...
Austin was a little more apprehensive and chose to throw his food at them. Haha.
I think Layton enjoyed his first trip to the pumpkin patch too. He strolled around, got his picture made lots, sat with pumpkins, felt of hay, got fed in the car, and people watched a whole bunch. Definitely a good time for my littlest man.

Mini pumpkins everywhere! Plus 2 out of 3 sweet brothers. =)

My 3 babies and handsome husband. This picture just fills me to the brim with gratefulness and joy.
Me and my boys. (Clearly daddy isn't as impressive behind the camera as mama because he can never get all 3 boys to look at him. Ha!)

We had a great visit at the patch and after much searching and debate and discussion, finally found "the one" to bring home. The boys can't wait to turn it into a jack-o-lantern. =)

And just because... Here are my big boys at last year's pumpkin patch. They are growing so fast! *Tear*
We had a super fun weekend and this was definitely the main attraction. I'm so thankful for Fall, pumpkin patches, fun weekends, special outings with my family, AND that my husband is home almost all week long. =)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favorites: Fall Break Edition

We've been on Fall Break this week and have really, really enjoyed the down time and laid back routine. And I think we've all loved having Garrison home with us all day. There is something so sweet about my big boys playing together and having tons of fun and coming up with all sorts of things to do with unlimited time on their hands. I love how well they play together and how much they enjoy spending time together. Close knit siblings are something special that I hope my boys always experience with one another. We sure are going to miss Garrison next week. Waaaaahh!

It's still Fall Break for now though so we're going to focus on enjoying every last minute of it!

Our week hasn't been super exciting..everyone has been under the weather, Layton hasn't slept well, and Terrell's been out of town most of the week, but thankfully I've had help and we've managed to still have a pretty fun but low-key week. It is such a blessing being back here!

Here are my favorites from Fall Break...

*Garrison has really gotten into "decorating" his bed. He's just festive that way I guess. =) I have a sign hanging in the kitchen that says "Happy Fall" so he asked me to write that down for him and then he turned it into a decorative little sign... and got pretty creative by hanging it on the end of his bed. I just love his festive, creative little mind. He is always coming up with something unique to do!

*I planned some crafts for the big boys this week and one of them was handprint bats. I thought they turned out pretty cute!

*We took Garrison to the library here in Bville for the first time ever. (He loved it and was very impressed with everything it had to offer.) Since we moved a week before school started and are pretty busy on the weekends and in the evenings we hadn't had a chance to take him until this week. Things went GREAT with all 3 boys until Austin dumped tons of puzzles out while I was busy looking through books. It was awful. These weren't the simple 10 pieces or less wooden puzzles, these were the 25+ piece puzzles with no picture to look at or go by. I was so flustered trying to put together 10 different puzzles and with like 200 different puzzle pieces everywhere. Ughhhh. Thankfully our library experience was redeemed with a fun story time. However, my middle is now banned from touching a puzzle at the library... indefinitely.

*This little man still tastes his toes every now and then and it's one of the cutest things ever! Poor baby has been so congested this week I'm just thankful he was able to be happy some too.

*During naptime this week, Garrison and I have enjoyed several games of Who Shook Hook? This is a game Austin isn't ready for so it's been good quality time with my biggest and a great chance for him to do something he normally doesn't get to do.

*We spent the morning at the park one day this week and all 3 boys had a great time. Yay for nice weather and fresh air and not letting these little colds interfere with a morning out.

*Another craft I did with the big boys was "silly spiders". They painted toilet paper rolls, made a face for their spider, and then picked out some colorful, pipe cleaner legs. I had to glue the legs and faces on but they loved painting and picking out legs and seeing the finished product. =)

*This sweet boy has a new favorite toy... a little rattle that neither one of his big brothers were ever impressed with. Layton thinks it's the greatest thing ever!

*Yesterday afternoon during naptime Garrison got a little discouraged and sad about our break coming to an end (poor baby is definitely my child), so in an effort to cheer him up and offer a fun distraction we started on his Christmas list. And as you can see it's quite the variety of items. Oh how I love this boy. =)

*Favorite not-pictured moment: We hosted my parents for supper on Tuesday night. Our first time to have someone over for a meal since we moved back. It was a little crazy with the kiddos being wound up and Layton feeling worse as the night went on, but we had a good time and enjoyed having company over. Hopefully once we find a new house we can invite family and friends over more often. Hosting is not something I've done a lot of (which I'm blaming on the fact that we've always lived away) so it's a tad out of my comfort zone, BUT, I'm feeling totally motivated by a fellow blogger's Breaking Bread series. It's really good... especially for people like me who haven't done a lot of hosting and who stress easily over having people in my home... but you should check it out. =)

Terrell gets home this afternoon and we are SO excited to see him! We did the whole long distance thing for years while we were dating... since we got married, not so much. Not ever really. So him being away lots this Fall will be a BIG adjustment for me (and the boys). For now however we're hoping everyone is well enough to enjoy some really fun weekend plans with daddy! Happy Friday!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Weekend & My Birthday

It's the day after my 31st birthday... and I'm feeling 31. Haha! Between sick kids and a workout at the library this morning (long story) and the anticipation and anxiety that's coming with Terrell's first out of town trip this Fall, I'm definitely feeling older. But on the bright side it's still Fall Break, we had a fun weekend, and I had a great birthday. Yay!

Saturday morning started pretty bright and early for us at the soccer fields. And I brought my real camera in hopes of getting some great action shots of my firstborn having fun doing something he loves... playing soccer. Unfortunately this particular game turned out to be a tough one. Real tough. Most of the game looked like this... 3 on 1. That's my baby in orange.

5 year old soccer is super fun and all about the kids...until it isn't. Sigh. This was our first game with difficult coaches (from the opposing team) and Garrison playing hard, practically by himself, all the while getting pushed down and knocked over lots.
Exhibit A:

Just kidding. Sort of. It was a frustrating game for everyone but I was SO proud of Garrison for hanging in there, playing hard despite the adverstiy he was facing, and never giving up. He stayed determined and did a really great job start to finish. And in the end lessons were learned. They were lessons I was hoping could be avoided at the 5 year old level, but lessons nonetheless.

We shook it off and moved on afterwards by cheering on Austin at his game which was totally fun and carefree and all about the kiddos. Yay. (I had every intention of getting some great shots of my middle at his game but my camera battery went dead.... so instead I got a great iphone pic of AnAn and Layton at the game. It was cooold Saturday morning!)

Saturday night my parents took out the whole fam to celebrate my birthday. And we had tons of fun! We always laugh so hard when we get together and have the best time. =) Afterwards we went back to their house for presents, cake and ice cream, and baths. (We woke up Saturday morning to no hot water. The issues of this old house are numerous...ugh.) All the boys singing to me and helping blow out my candles was the funniest, craziest blowing out candle experience ever! My big boys were hilarious. Singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles is a BIG DEAL. Ha!

*PS... That carbon monoxide alarm you see on the counter was a gift from my parents. With all the issues we've had with our rental house, they don't trust it either. Haha.

Monday for lunch my mom took us out for my birthday and AnAn and Frankie came too. Such a treat to enjoy a meal out for lunch! Garrison decided to take our picture to document the ocassion... He worked hard to squeeze us all in. I love it! =)

Last night since the big boys were both under the weather and coughing up a storm, we decided to stay in and order pizza for supper... and Dairy Queen for dessert! Yum! Then I got some sweet cards and gifts from all my boys. My family really spoiled me and made turning 31 pretty special.

Now if we can just fight off the crud that's hanging around here maybe we can enjoy the rest of our break! We have some fun things planned for the end of the week when Terrell gets back home, so hopefully we can all get well soon. Happy Tuesday! =)